Dell computer waste (e-waste) in a Chinese scrap yard. Dell and other progressive companies have made moves to start tackling the e-waste problem. Will others follow?
Dell made the announcement with a pledge to phaseout the use of
two key groups of chemicals known to be hazardous to
theenvironment: all types of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and
theplastic polyvinyl chlorine (PVC), by 2009. This latest success
follows just months after oursuccess in pressuring its big rival
Hewlett Packard (HP) to change itspolicy in March 2006.
Easy as Dell
HP, LGE, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson havealready
made commitments to eliminate the use of BFR's and PVC in the
near future. However, a number of other companiesincluding Acer,
Apple, Fujitsu-Siemens, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Siemensand Toshiba
have so far failed to commit to similar measures. Motorola recently
broke its promise to clean up.
But despite these small steps in the right direction by some
companiesit is clear that electronics users expect more. A survey
conducted byIpsos-MORI for us reveals that most people across nine
countries saythey would pay extra for a more environmentally
friendly computer andthat companies should be held responsible for
dealing with theirhazardous waste from PCs.
The nine country survey, carried out earlier this year, found
that fromhalf to three-quarters of computer users say that they
would be willingto pay extra for an environmentally friendly
computer. The amountsranged from US$59 in Germany, US$118 in UK,
US$199 in China and awhopping US$229 in Mexico.
Toxic as hell
Every year, hundreds of thousands of old computers and mobile
containing toxic chemicals are dumped in landfills or burned
insmelters. Thousands more are exported, often illegally, from
theEurope, US, Japan and other industrialised countries, to Asia.
There,workers at scrap yards, some of whom are children, are
exposed to a
cocktail of toxic chemicals and poisons. This is the dark side
of atrend for cheaper, more disposable electronics.
By removing the toxic chemicals, companies make it cleaner
andeasier to recycle their products. Companies that take
responsibilityfor the whole lifecycle of their products from cradle
to grave ensurethat their products last longer and cause less
vision for the industryis one that produces cleaner, longer
lasting, more sustainable productsthat don't contribute to the
growing tide of toxic, short livedproducts currently being dumped
Electronics is a fast moving, innovative industry that can
respondquickly to users wishes and new trends. But this years
hottest gadgetshouldn't end up being next years e-waste being taken
apart by aChinese child. Some companies are making positive moves
and our surveyshows that users want a cleaner industry and are
willing to pay extrafor it.
Will the industry follow this trend?
Check out how the top companies line up on toxic chemicals and consider which deserve your money next time you buy electronics.
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